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Well... finally took the plunge into winemaking

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Zintrigue

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My dear mother two states away got me a small batch winemaking kit (merlot) from Midwest Supplies. I'm glad she did because I was just too overwhelmed with the options to do it myself. Never take me clothes shopping.

Kit has everything I need so far. I have a few questions as I go, but nothing google hasn't solved yet. (Specific gravity before "secondary" fermentation was too high - wait longer, yes?)

I'm really excited to learn new things about this craft. The next thing I make will probably be the infamous Dragons' Blood. I'm really glad I have this community to turn to for support - my previous posts have been met with such knowledge and kindness.

Here's to a first batch! :dg

-Zintrigue
 

JohnT

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Welcome aboard and to this life long passion!
 

knifemaker

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Welcome to WMT! Take a deep breath, relax, You Will make wine! and never be afraid to ask for help. There are a lot of really experienced, and really nice people here who will bend over backwards to help you. Dale
 

kevinlfifer

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I'll give you your first advice on the kit. TAKE YOUR TIME. When in doubt, do nothing.

I was in such a hurry to get wine made, my first kit is still being used to cook with, from 12/2011
 

Zintrigue

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Thanks so much everyone.


I'll give you your first advice on the kit. TAKE YOUR TIME. When in doubt, do nothing.

I was in such a hurry to get wine made, my first kit is still being used to cook with, from 12/2011
Yeah, I'm okay letting it sit. Wine is being made right now and I'm doing nothing. Sounds good to me. So far, when in doubt, /Google.

I would, however, like a more definitive translation of specific gravity. I know what numbers I'm aiming for at each point in the process, but how does it affect flavor in the long run? Specific gravity is sugars, yes? So high specific gravity is high sugar, thus the wine will either be sweeter or have more alcohol in the end? Or both? Probably depends on a number of factors, but I'm trying to make an A+B=C in my head and everything I read is practically a dissertation on the subject.

Thanks again, everyone.

-Zintrigue
 

cmason1957

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High starting sg, leads to more alcohol and potentially a sweeter ending wine. More alcohol usually means the flavors are muted longer, they may come out, if you agree long enough. Generally, you want to start at about 1.090-1.110 for grapes. Lower for many other fruits.
 

Zintrigue

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High starting sg, leads to more alcohol and potentially a sweeter ending wine. More alcohol usually means the flavors are muted longer, they may come out, if you agree long enough. Generally, you want to start at about 1.090-1.110 for grapes. Lower for many other fruits.

Well and succinctly put. Thank you so much

-Zintrigue
 

NorCal

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Yeast consume the sugar and turns it into alcohol. The yeast die when they run out of sugar to consume (wine goes dry) or the environment is toxic. A common toxic environment is the alcohol is too high for the yeast to survive, which depending on the yeast is typically between 12-18% abv (alcohol by volume). So if you start with so much sugar that you hit the limit of alcohol that the yeast will survive, you will have rs (residual sugar) and thus a sweet wine.
I have learned that wine is all about balance, where more usually isn't better. Too much alcohol, too sweet, too oakey, too acidic, detracts from the wine. Thus the art and the science of making wine, which is why it is a constant learning experience and why I like it so much.

Welcome and don't be afraid to post along the way and pictures always make it more fun to read.
 
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Ajmassa

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Having just learned all this myself I can put it in some blunt terms.
-The more sugar consumed = higher ABV
-The larger the SG difference from before and after fermentation = the higher the alcohol
-fruits and skin packs contain natural sugar.
Therefore
-fruit wine have ability to obtain higher ABV. Or
-fruit wine on the sweeter side would have had less sugar consumed by yeast or too much sugar for the yeast to handle.
 

Zintrigue

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I'm jealous of your grapes, NorCal. I'm in Northern California as well, but here in the mountains I find it hard to make space for grapes among all of the trees. Especially since I just ordered blueberries for my limited garden space. (Kids eat them like candy) Blueberry wine may be in my future. But I do prefer my Zins...

Yes, I'm noticing that less is more when it comes to a lot of wine recipes. Being as I prefer them dry, I might actually find myself with too low a specific gravity when I experiment.

Oh, here's a newbie question for you guys. I have a small batch kit, so I only make one gallon at a time. If I order a juice concentrate and it's more than a gallon (All the ones I've found appear to be 5+), can I just use enough for one gallon and store the rest? How long can I store the remainder for, if so?

Ajmassa - I didn't know there were fruit and skin packs. Is there a huge difference in flavor between wines made purely from concentrate and wines made from concentrate with fruit and skin packs thrown in?

-Zintrigue
 

Ajmassa

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Ajmassa - I didn't know there were fruit and skin packs. Is there a huge difference in flavor between wines made purely from concentrate and wines made from concentrate with fruit and skin packs thrown in?

-Zintrigue

I'm sorry. I worded that poorly. I meant either skins packs added or fruit added. Not "fruit packs". I don't think that exists. I've been making wine my entire life (even stomped on grapes as a kid) Though just recently my hobby became an obsession. What once was a single carboy in the corner for years now looks like a meth labImageUploadedByWine Making1484309531.274528.jpg.

Very jealous of the username btw. Wish I had thought of something witty like that. Maybe VinoCorleone Or DannyDeVino???
 

Ajmassa

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Btw Zintrigue I joined same time as you. Specifically for troubleshooting a problem that was just too specific for google.
As much as google can help, nothing can compare to this forum. The benefits are unmeasurable. First I felt like a burden by asking so many questions. But now it is quite the opposite. People genuinely enjoy helping out and are interested in hearing how the advice given has resulted
Also, My specific gravity post yesterday was not advice, but more-so a synopsis awaiting someone to confirm about the fruit wine = higher ABV ability / sweeter.
And now your post has me researching Dragons Blood. Soon enough.
 

JohnT

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Most folks here use the specific gravity scale to measure sugar, but I normally use the brix scale. Brix and specific gravity are simply two different scales to measure density of a fluid (much like celsius and Fahrenheit both measure temperature). Most hydrometers have both a brix scale and a specific gravity scale, but I believe that most light refractometers measure in brix (some refractometers only measure in brix).

Measuring in Brix is what I used when I first started winemaking and just never got out of the habit. I always made wine from fresh fruit, so never really had to deal with kit instructions (which, I believe prefer to use the SG scale).

What I like about using the brix scale is that this is roughly the percent of sugar present. A reading of 24 is 24 percent sugar. When the sugar is fermented out, the brix scale will read 0 (or close to it). To get a rough potential abv, simply multiply the brix reading by 0.6 (again this is a rough idea of ABV). To my warped and twisted brain, brix just seems to make more sense.

For example, a specific gravity of 1.092 does not tell me much unless I am used to using the SG scale. However, a brix reading of 22 (the equivalent of 1.092) tells me that I have 22% sugar and that I ROUGHLY have (22 * .6 = 13.2 percent potential alcohol (give or take a little).

This just makes more sense to me and easier to use.
 
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Zintrigue

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I'm sorry. I worded that poorly. I meant either skins packs added or fruit added. Not "fruit packs". I don't think that exists. I've been making wine my entire life (even stomped on grapes as a kid) Though just recently my hobby became an obsession. What once was a single carboy in the corner for years now looks like a meth labView attachment 33474.

Very jealous of the username btw. Wish I had thought of something witty like that. Maybe VinoCorleone Or DannyDeVino???
Goodness. It definitely looks like some sort of illegal activity going on there. I think DannyDeVino is clever. Since red Zins are my fave I always come up with some sort of Zin username on various sites or programs. Zinfamous, Zinfatuation, Zinfused, Zinbibe, etc. Could mix it up with other wines, too. Cabsolute, Cabsent, so on.

Btw Zintrigue I joined same time as you. Specifically for troubleshooting a problem that was just too specific for google.
As much as google can help, nothing can compare to this forum. The benefits are unmeasurable. First I felt like a burden by asking so many questions. But now it is quite the opposite. People genuinely enjoy helping out and are interested in hearing how the advice given has resulted
Also, My specific gravity post yesterday was not advice, but more-so a synopsis awaiting someone to confirm about the fruit wine = higher ABV ability / sweeter.
And now your post has me researching Dragons Blood. Soon enough.
I think you had it pretty close. I've done a lot of reading on specific gravity because it's the part I understand the least, but nothing is ever as simple as A+B=C. I realize that the process isn't that simple, but when I learn I want to grab the tip of the iceberg and go from there. Yes, I feel as if I'm being a pest, too. Apparently I need to discard that notion.

Most folks here use the specific gravity scale to measure sugar, but I normally use the brix scale. Brix and specific gravity are simply two different scales to measure density of a fluid (much like celsius and Fahrenheit both measure temperature). Most hydrometers have both a brix scale and a specific gravity scale, but I believe that most light refractometers measure in brix (some refractometers only measure in brix).

Measuring in Brix is what I used when I first started winemaking and just never got out of the habit. I always made wine from fresh fruit, so never really had to deal with kit instructions (which, I believe prefer to use the SG scale).

What I like about using the brix scale is that this is roughly the percent of sugar present. A reading of 24 is 24 percent sugar. When the sugar is fermented out, the brix scale will read 0 (or close to it). To get a rough potential abv, simply multiply the brix reading by 0.6 (again this is a rough idea of ABV). To my warped and twisted brain, brix just seems to make more sense.

For example, a specific gravity of 1.092 does not tell me much unless I am used to using the SG scale. However, a brix reading of 22 (the equivalent of 1.092) tells me that I have 22% sugar and that I ROUGHLY have (22 * .6 = 13.2 percent potential alcohol (give or take a little).

This just makes more sense to me and easier to use.
Actually your Brix scale makes more sense to me, too. There's a lot of math and translation involved with specific gravity, it seems roundabout. My hydrometer comes with SG, Brix, and potential alcohol by volume. I like options.

-Zintrigue
 

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